DOJ files illegal recruitment, other raps vs Veloso recruiters

MANILA — The National Bureau of Investigation filed before the Department of Justice on Monday, a complaint for illegal recruitment, human trafficking and estafa against the alleged recruiters of Mary Jane Velasco, who has been scheduled to be executed in Indonesia for smuggling illegal drugs on Apr. 28 (Tuesday).

In his referral-letter to Prosecutor General Claro Arellano, NBI director Virgilio Mendez recommended the prosecution of Veloso’s acquaintance, Ma. Kristina Sergio, and her live-in partner Julius Lacanilao, both residents of Talavera, Nueva Ecija; and an African national identified only as Ike.

According to the NBI complaint, Lacanilao, a family friend of Veloso, introduced Veloso to Sergio sometime in April 2010 and offered Veloso a job as a domestic helper in Malaysia. Veloso allegedly gave Sergio a tricycle, a cellphone and P7,000 in exchange for the job offer.

Veloso and Sergio went to Malaysia the same month and met with Ike, said to be the brother of Sergio’s friend named only as Prince, with whom Sergio spoke over the phone several times when they were in Malaysia.

A few days later, the two women prepared for a side trip to Indonesia to meet another person but Sergio said she could not make the trip and asked Veloso to go alone. Sergio allegedly promised that Veloso would get her job after her return from Indonesia.

Veloso said on April 24, she and Sergio met Ike who handed Veloso a traveling bag to her to carry her clothes with. Veloso said she noticed that the bag, though empty, appeared to be heavy but was told by Sergio that it was so because the bag was new.

Sergio also gave Veloso a number to call upon arriving in Indonesia. However, Veloso was arrested in the airport after 2.6 kilos of heroin were found in the traveling bag.

Mendez said Veloso was “a victim of deception and manipulation by her illegal recruiters.”

“Facts surrounding the circumstances of her recruitment, transportation and stay at a foreign country, also shows that she is a victim of human trafficking owing to the fact that her vulnerability—[being] in dire need of a job in order to support her family—was exploited by her recruiters through manipulation and deception, in order for her to unwittingly transport contraband without her knowledge,” Mendez said.

The NBI built its case on the sworn-statement of Veloso that was taken by Philippine Drug Employment Agency operatives who visited her in prison in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, last March. Attached to the NBI complaint was composite facial sketch of Ike based on the descriptions given by Veloso.

Veloso described Ike as about 6’1” to 6’3”, between 30 and 35 years old, 230 to 250 lbs, large-bellied, and dark-skinned.

The NBI also obtained verification from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration that Sergio and Lacanilao had no license to recruit persons for jobs abroad.

The NBI asked the DOJ to charge the suspects with violations of Section 6 (illegal recruitment) of Republic Act No. 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, Article 315 (estafa) of the Revised Penal Code, and Section 5 K paragraph (3) and (4) in relation to paragraph L of RA 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2004.